• Making Percents Make Sense

      Abbott, Melissa Leigh; The College at Brockport (2008-08-01)
      Since our culture relies upon technology, calculators, cash registers, and other devices, to complete math calculations, the conceptual idea of figuring out percentages has been devalued. In a sense, technology has allowed our culture to disengage common mathematical knowledge without any major concerns. The usefulness of mathematics skills is often questioned by students who believe they only need basic math procedures such as simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in their daily lives. Educators bear the added challenge of not only teaching these concepts and their significance in daily application but in assisting students to understand the importance of doing so without the aid of technology. The average middle school student not only struggles with mathematic concepts and their application in real world situations but vocabulary and reading comprehension as well. This double challenge exacerbates the difficulty of instruction and application of lessons such as percentages. This thesis project explores different strategies for student understanding and engagement with a foundational mathematics concept, percentages. It looks at the literary and reading comprehension effects on teaching math as it impacts student acquisition of this particular subject. The research literature reviews the idea of mathematic concept comprehension as a necessary life-long skill beyond the math classroom. It highlights the partnership of reading comprehension and academic success in math. The project includes a curriculum unit for teaching percentages which incorporates visual aids, hands on activities, and different literacy techniques. A two week unit on percentages was taught in a rural middle school, eighth grade classroom of eighteen students. Conclusions observed from student testing comparisons showed not only increased understanding of the percentages unit material but student engagement was also noted as participants were able to articulate added understanding of life application for this skill.